Governor Ibrahim Gaidam’s ascension to power was by sheer providence; he was actually sworn in as an elected deputy governor on May 29, 2007.
However, less than two years after, he became the governor on January 26, 2009 following the death of his principal, Senator Mamman Ali, in faraway Florida, USA.
The impression at the time was that Gaidam, despite his rich curriculum vitae as a retired permanent secretary in the Yobe State Civil Service, did not have an edge politically to withstand the waves of political scheming; hence the allusion that he might only complete the remaining two years of late Mamman Ali.
But Gaidam did not only win the election in 2011, but went ahead to win another term in 2015. He is indisputably the only governor in the current dispensation that has been on the “throne” for nearly ten years in contrast to the eight years by his peers who would be rounding up their second term of cumulative eight years.
And with President Buhari’s assenting of the Constitution Alteration Bill Number 16 which disallows any vice-president or deputy governor who succeeds his boss on account of death or resignation from seeking a second term in office, Gaidam has made history as the only governor who enjoyed such privilege without interruption.
The big take however is that he has become powerful to the extent that big and equally influential politicians look up to him for bearing. This is unlike in many states across Nigeria where politicians are agog with campaigns, with some from within the same political party challenging their first term governors.
For now, even elected representatives at all levels are all looking unto Gaidam for “a green or red light” to know their political future; even as analysts have differed on the source of Gaidam’s “enormous powers.” Some say the secret is his exemplary leadership and open heartedness while others believe he knows how to “burn the disgruntled in cold water.”
“No member of the National or state assembly can tell you that he has the magic wand to find his way back to the chair he is presently sitting on,” an official of the APC in Yobe State, said.
“The governor is the deciding factor; it seems he has been favoured by Allah; he is in full control of APC and the politics in Yobe,” he said.
Another APC member corroborated by saying that one hardly sees posters of aspiring politicians. “Gaidam did not ask anybody not to campaign but nobody can dare do anything. Only Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim is making noise and you will see what would happen in the coming days,” he said.
Governor Gaidam had in his speech at the inauguration of elected councils chairmen on February 20, 2017, said only committed politicians, with the love of the state at heart would take over from him, and “Not absentee politicians, drunkards, Indian hemp smokers or gamblers who desert the state after elections.”
“But it seems those calmly nursing the ambition believe they don’t have skeleton in their cupboards. We have a lot of them showing interest in the job but want the governor to take the final decision,” another APC official in the state said.
Those in the race so far
Some political spectators in the state say the governor has tactically tamed all those nursing ambition of taking over him. They supported this argument with the way Governor Gaidam allegedly snubbed the only person that has summoned the courage and declared for the governorship.
Hon. Sidi Yakubu Karasuwa, a member of the House of Representatives from the state, had at a time written a formal letter to the governor and the Yobe State chapter of the APC intimating them of his desire to vie for the governorship.
It was gathered that though Gaidam did not reprimanded him, what transpired since then had pushed Karasuwa to the trenches as he is not only being avoided by politicians but many are afraid to associate with him.
Senator Ahmad Lawan
Although he has not declared, Ahmed Lawan, the Senate Majority Leader, is being speculated to aspire for the office. Those mentioning his name believe his experience in the National Assembly for 19 years provides him with firm grip of governance, contacts and the ability to pull resources and expertise together to continue from where Gaidam will stop. He also enjoys excellent rapport with the governor.
According to pundits, the Senate leader is also favoured by the politics of zoning in Yobe. He is from Yobe North (Zone C) which has never produced a governor.
However, some political observers opined that he doesn’t have a strong political structure outside his constituency to effectively sell his aspiration to electorates in Zones A and B.
Hon. Lawan Shettima Ali
He is a former National Secretary of the defunct ANPP and a serving Commissioner of Works, Transport and Energy.
Ali is among the people who could possibly fly the APC’s ticket considering his political exposure and background. He also didn’t declare interest but there are insinuations about his gubernatorial candidature. He is among the favourites of the governor for his outstanding performance in all the responsibilities given to him by Governor Gaidam in terms of projects accomplishment.
But his albatross might be zoning; he hails from the same zone with the incumbent governor.
Alhaji Saleh Abubakar
He is the incumbent Head of Service of Yobe State and is seen as another contender in the race to the government house even though he did not declare. Like others, he enjoys a very cordial relationship with the governor having served as his Chief of Staff for about eight years.
Secondly, his experience in the public service serves as an advantage to his ambition based on his relationship with the working class. Pundits in the state have described him as a gentleman with lots of experience in the Civil Service, believing that his moderate political experience and loyalty to the governor would be his selling point. His shortcoming is the fact that he is not a politician and might therefore not appeal to the political class who would want someone from their fold.
Engr. Abubakar D. Ali
He is the deputy governor and another candidate that may likely get the ticket, if the governor settles on him. His loyalty to the governor makes everyone suspect that Gaidam may decide to compensate him. But, he also didn’t declare interest. Analysts believe that if loyalty could give a fellow anything, Engr. Ali would go to sleep. He is the younger brother of late Governor Ali and hails from Zone B which controls a lot of votes.
He is the current National Secretary of the APC, a dogged politician who rarely speaks but enjoys wide range of support across the state and beyond.
He has been mentioned among possible successors of Governor Gaidam. Buni also enjoys a very cordial relationship with the governor and is often described as a trusted ally.
He has to his advantage the support of political stalwarts which he cultivated when he served as the state APC Chairman. Similarly, his elevation to the office of the national secretary of the party in 2014 and his reelection few weeks ago gives him an advantage of having the delegates and party officials support his ambition.
However, there are arguments that his emergence from zone A where the governor hails from, coupled with the fact that he is once again in the NWC of the APC might affect his chances.
Alhaji Ibrahim Bomai
Even though those mentioned above never made their ambitions public, Alhaji Ibrahim Bomai did. He stormed Damaturu in grand style, accompanied by dozens of vehicles adorned with his posters on the day the state congress of the APC was held.
A former Director of FCT Treasure, he has started gaining political relevance coupled with his cordial relationship with Governor Gaidam. Many are insinuating that it was the governor that encouraged him to declare.
Although his governorship ambition has not been declared, but his poster across Zone B has made people believe that he is eyeing the seat.
Curiously, there is also no visible candidate in the leading opposition PDP in Yobe. A former Minister of Police Affairs, Adamu Maina Waziri had contested serially in the past but he has kept a distance this time around. There are speculations that Senator Mohammed Hassan who represents Yobe Zone B in the Senate under the platform of the PDP might vie for the office but he too has not said anything yet.